The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has released a feasibility study of routing the Pennsylvania Highlands Trail through the Quakertown Area this complements a study released last Spring that analyzed connecting the PA Highlands Trail with the New Jersey segment of the Highlands Trail which is maintained by the NY/NJ Trail Conference.
Like the trail in New Jersey the PA Highlands Trail will be a combination of natural surface trails, rural roads and shared use paths. The Circuit, with a few exceptions only includes the latter, so it is fortunate that most of the trail alignments in the study strived for piecing together new and existing shared use path connections through the region's semi-rural landscape.
The study also breathes new life into the somewhat dormant Liberty Bell Trail alignment which has seen little progress since Mongtomery County published a feasibility study in 2001. Building the trail on the north end has generated a lot of buzz since the popular Saucon Rail Trail was completed to Coopersburg near the Bucks - Lehigh County Line.
The PA Highlands Trail is planned to expand west along Unami Creek to meet the Perkiomen Trail in Northern Montgomery County. Milford Township intends to complete its path network along the creek up to the Montgomery County Line. The Appalachian Mountain Club which is a Circuit Coalition partner is already working on trail planning efforts in Montgomery County.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has posted a Notice of Funding Availability for the 2014 TIGER Grant program. Applications will be accepted through Grants.gov for a period beginning on April 3rd 2014 and ending on April 28, 2014.
More information about the 2014 TIGER Program is available at http://www.dot.gov/tiger/nofa
If your eligible organization has not previoiusly registered at Grants.gov before then you need to do so before you apply for TIGER. The registration process takes about 4-6 weeks so you should be start that process immediately. http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/organization-registration.html
|Mike Fusco 1957-2014|
Improvements to the Gloucester Township Bike Path, part of the Gloucester-Mt. Ephraim Trail is awaiting funding from the 2013 round of the Rec Trails Program.
Last weekend at the New Jersey Bike and Walk Summit, NJ DOT Local Aid and Economic Development Director Mike Russo and Safe Routes to School to Coordinator Elise Bremer-Nei gave a very informative presentation on the Bicycle and Pedestrian funding opportunities available for Local Public Agencies (LPA's). LPA's include Counties, Municipalities, Bridge/Transit Authorities as well as School Districts.
This presentation is very timely as NJ DOT and DVRPC are about to announce new funding rounds for 1) Transportation Alternatives/Transportation Enhancements (TAP/TE) and 2) Safe Routes To School (SRTS).
In the past TE and SRTS competitive funding rounds have been extremely popular and over subscribed. For the last round in 2012 NJDOT received TE 149 applications that requested a total of $78M. Of that $10M was awarded to 29 of those projects. This 2014 soliciatation will be $15.5M for TAP/TE and $5.6M for Safe Routes to Schools statewide.
NJDOT is working on a strategy to ensure that project sponsors get the information they need to develop good project applications and complete projects successfully. Follow this blog for announcements of upcoming training opportunities and seminars.
Almost 25 years after the closure of the Old Betzwood Bridge , the long-awaited Betzwood Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail Project has taken a step closer to fruition.
J.D. Eckman Inc. has won the construction bid that was put out back in December 5th, 2013 and Notice to Proceed with construction was issued to the contractor on February 3rd, 2014. Construction is expected to begin within the next few months.
The new bridge, which will be named Sullivan's Bridge after Revolutionary War Major General John Sullivan, will be for bicycles and pedestrians only, and is currently on track to be completed by late spring 2016. In addition to the bicycle/pedestrian trail bridge, the project includes the replacement of the Trooper Road Bridge over the Schuykill River Trail and replacement of the superstructure of the bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad Line, as well as improving the roadway and trail approaches to each of the bridges.
Pedestrian and bicycle access between Betzwood and Valley Forge was interrupted in 1991 when the Old Betzwood Bridge, which was constructed in 1777, was closed due to structural issues. The new bridge will restore an important link in The Circuit, connecting the Schuykill River Trail to the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail and providing access from communities in Montgomery County to Valley Forge National Historic Park and the many offices of the Valley Forge-King of Prussia area.
See the attached file for a diagram of the bridge project.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Northeast Regional Office is now accepting applications for the Trail Assistance Mini-Grant Program in Pennsylvania.
With funds provided through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, RTC is able to distribute a small amount of match funding to rail-trail projects in Pennsylvania.
Grant awards average $5,000 or less, with a maximum of $10,000. All projects require a 50 percent (of the total project cost) match from the applicant.
The application deadline for 2014 is Feb. 28, 2014, and awards will be announced March 25, 2014.
The mini-grant program managed by RTC can assist trail organizations or municipalities that need to make small repairs and improvements to their trail outside of the regular PA DCNR grant schedule, and well below the higher-dollar amounts usually requested on major grants.
Improvements completed through this program should represent added value to the trail either by increasing the existing length or by way of new construction that makes the trail more usable. Examples of likely projects include bridge decking, culverts, gates/bollards, bridge inspection, landscaping, signage, toilet facilities, trailhead improvements and way-finding signs. Purchase of a major piece of equipment may be considered.
Guidelines for the program, along with a list of projects previously funded, is available on the RTC website.
Please contact Patricia Tomes directly (717.238.1717 or ) with any questions regarding the eligibility of your project.
A half mile of the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown was closed this week for two or three months. We received a press release (see below) announcing the closure, which is due to the Lafayette Street extension construction project. The closure runs from Ford Street to Ross Street in Norristown.
Montgomery County officials told the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia that liability concerns are preventing them from establishing a detour route. BCGP offered these following recommendations:
1) Install "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs on Main Street, to make motorists aware of bicyclists using the road.
2) Put a map of of the closure and adjoining roads on the signs that will be posted at both ends of the closure to allow bicyclists to know where they can get back on the trail.
3) Place a phone number or email address on the sign for bicyclists and pedestrians to report incidents.
Thus far, we have have been told by Montco officials that they are considering our recommendations.
The Chester County Commissioners have issued a press release announcing the official opening of Phase 2 of the Chester Valley Trail from the Wegman's in Malvern to Old Eagle School Road in Tredyffrin Township. This new section increases the continuous length of the trail to 11 miles.
The easternmost section of Phase 2 from Old Eagle School to Warner Road is still officially closed and is considered an active construction zone. This closure may continue until the completion of the Warner Road Trailhead, which would be the likely site for what we hope is a springtime ribbon cutting. When opened, this section will connect the just-opened trail to the existing 1-mile stretch in King of Prussia. Biking to the mall will have never been easier!
The press release also mentioned the start of construction of Phase 3 in March. This will extend the west end of the trail from Exton Park to another stub section of the Chester Valley Trail at Iron Lake Rd. If all goes as planned that section of trail will be opened by this time next year.
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR)'s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation has announced that the Community Conservation Partnerships Program 2014 Open Grant Application Period will be running from January 15th, 2014 to April 16th, 2014. This grant is available for projects that advance local recreation and conservation priorities and implement the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan 2009-2013.
For more information about the DCNR Grant and to apply, go to https://www.grants.dcnr.state.pa/us/index.aspx or see the attached flyer.
The DCNR will be holding six FREE workshops with the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society around the state to provide further information on the grant and its application process. The Delaware Valley-area workshop will be held on February 6th, 2014 from 9:30 AM to 12 Noon at the following address:
Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus: Fire Academy
1175 Conshohocken Road
Conshohocken, PA 19428
You must register online for a workshop at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/calendar in order to attend. Please register no less than one week prior to the date of the workshop you are planning to attend. For more information on the workshops, go to http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/newsandevents//index.htm or see the attached flyer.
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission announced today that PA's Transportation Alternatives Program will be opened from February 3, 2014 until April 3, 2014.
At this time, there are not any application forms, guidance or a direct PennDOT website with any additional information.
From the DVRPC website
"There will be one solicitation for two years of TAP funding totaling $7.5 million in the DVRPC Pennsylvania counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia) for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails, and stormwater management projects. Concurrently the statewide TAP will have $26 million available for all eligible project types listed below. There will be one application and projects may be selected as either regional or statewide priorities. Local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, school districts, local education agencies, or schools, and tribal governments are eligible to apply for the competitive TAP funds.
A TAP information session will be held at Upper Merion Township Building in Freedom Hall on January 30th, starting at 3 pm. The building address is 175 West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406. Register here: tap-information-session.eventbrite.com."
More information about eligible projects are described here.
It's official! Although we knew it all along. Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation & Natural Resources declared the Schuylkill River the 2014 winner of its annual river popularity contest.
From Circuit Coalition member Schuylkill River Heritage Area:
"The River of the Year is selected by public vote. The Schuylkill was one of five rivers nominated, and earned 43 percent of the 5,527 votes tallied.The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is now planning a yearlong celebration, with River of the Year activities worked into all of our programming, including the Schuylkill River Sojourn, Pedal and Paddle events, Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour Series and more. We will also invite our partners to incorporate River of the Year activities into all their river related programs and events.
"We would like to thank the Schuylkill River Development Corp. and Montgomery County, who also nominated the Schuylkill and will partner with us in 2014 to bring some outstanding river programming to southeastern Pennsylvania. It is a statewide honor to be chosen, and our thanks go out to all of the individuals and organizations that endorsed us and voted for the Schuylkill," said Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl.The River of the Year program, which is administered by the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), is designed to raise awareness of the important recreational, ecological, and historical resources associated with PA's rivers and streams."
Since May of 2012, 33 MILES OF TRAIL WERE CONSTRUCTED.
In 2013, the following trail segments were celebrated with ribbon cuttings:
There are at least 60 MILES OF TRAIL ARE IN PROGRESS. In 2013, over $7.5 million in new funding was announced for Circuit trails.
There are 407 MILES LEFT TO GO. In June, the Circuit Coalition launched the Circuit Commitment campaign to secure $10 Million (to be spent over a three year period) to replenish DVRPC’s regional trail fund.
The Circuit Coalition held two Circuit Caucuses in June that were attended by over 100 trail enthusiasts. Since then, the Coalition has garnered:
2013 CIRCUIT MILESTONES
LOOKING TOWARDS 2014
After several years of hard work among numerous regional, municipal, state and transit partners, the City of Philadelphia and PennDOT have advertised the construction job of building a trail on top of the Manayunk Bridge. WootWoot!
The new trail will connect the Cynwyd Heritage Trail in Lower Merion over to the corner of Dupont and High Streets in Manayunk. A second phase will continue the trail to the Ivy Ridge Train Station.
The technical jargon is as follows:
The Manayunk Bridge Trail MPMS# 92413 has now been listed on the City of Philadelphia Office of Procurements list of Public Works Bidding Opportunities.
The listing indicates that the specifications will be available through Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Engineering and Construction Management System (ECMS) on 12/17/2013 and that the bid opening date is planned to be 1/16/2014. The City’s bid number is 3749ECMS.
Two announcements of grants for trails within the Circuit system were announced by PA's DCNR and the Commonwealth Financing Authority over the past several weeks. Congratulations to all!
Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Community Conservation Partnerships Program Grants for 2013
The following grants advance Circuit trails.
Jim Thorpe Borough, $365,000, further development of the Delaware & Lehigh Trail, work to include construction of approximately 0.9 miles of trail along the east bank of the Lehigh River from the future pedestrian trail bridge
Bucks & Phila
Pennsylvania Environmental Council - Pennsylvania Environmental Council, $100,000, prepare a Trail Stewardship Plan for a 4-mile section of the East Coast Greenway from the mouth of the Poquessing Creek to the mouth of the Neshaminy Creek in Bensalem Township and Philadelphia City, work to include a written report. Patrick Starr, 215-545-4570.
Bensalem Township - $250,000 for the Bensalem Greenway (East Coast Greenway)
Righters Ferry Associates - $250,000 for the Pencoyd Bridge (Schuylkill River Trail)
Delaware River City Corporation - $250,000 for the Baxter Trail (East Coast Greenway)
Schuylkill River Developement Corporation - $225,000 for South to Christian St. Trail (Schuylkill River Trail)
Schuylkill River Development Corporation - $175,00 for Grays Ferry Crossing (Schuylkill River Trail)
Bucks County - $8,885 for the Lower Neshaminy Creek Greenway Trail Feasibility (East Coast Greenway)
Saturday, December 14th, you are invited to join other trail enthusiasts for the 3rd Annual Cresheim Trail Walk. Please meet at 10 AM at the Springfield Library rear parking lot and then set off to explore the Montgomery County portion of the proposed Cresheim trail in vehicles and on foot. We will stop at key points where the proposed Cresheim Trail crosses roads to get a sense of the full scope of the proposed trail.
You will come away with a better understanding of the potential of the Cresheim Trail. We will wrap up our ramble at 1 PM and encourage participants to join us at the Trolley Car Diner for lunch. For more information call Susan Dannenberg at 215-715-9159 or Charlie Karl at 215-233-2090.
The Tri State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) recently posted an article suggesting that Cooper River Trail stewards look at the Schuylkill River Trail as a model for a first class bikeway in Camden County.
"Pick any day to visit the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia and you will see a fully-functioning commuter corridor — women and men bicycling and walking to work, while, across the river, motorists sit in miles of gridlock on the chronically jammed Schuylkill Expressway. Over a million people use the trail every year. But what makes this multi-use trail so attractive to commuters and different from other trails in the region? And what lessons can the Schuylkill River Trail offer for trail planners and builders across the state line in New Jersey..."
The Bern Township Supervisors and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area will cut the ribbon on a new section of trail Wednesday, December 11, 2013.The ribbon cutting ceremony will take at 2:00 p.m. near Washington Street where the trail ends at Herbine’s Lock, a canal remnant from the former Schuylkill Navigation System.
The 2,100-foot long, 10-foot wide, gravel multi-use trail follows the river edge stretching from a nine-acre proposed park site off Washington Street, south to Herbine’s Lock. It was constructed by the Bern Township road crew and paid for with a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC) Recreational Trails Program.
The newly completed section is the first part of a 2.2-mile trail that will connect Bern and Ontelaunee Townships through Leesport Borough. When finished, it will consist of two off-road trail segments connected by an on-road piece.
Next year a northern trail segment will be constructed along a former canal bed, stretching 1,843 feet from Belleman’s Church Road to Canal Street in Leesport. From Canal Street, signs will direct trail users to follow an on-road route that takes them to Wall Street, across the Schuylkill River along an existing bridge to South Schuylkill Avenue, and finally to Washington Street. There it will go off-road again along the recently completed section.
The new trail will eventually connect to the larger Schuylkill River Trail (SRT), along what has been recognized as a high-priority gap in the SRT—the 20-mile Reading-to-Hamburg section.
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has created a signed, on-road route for cyclists wishing to continue along the trail from where it breaks off in Reading to where it picks up again in Hamburg. Plans call for constructing an off-road trail along that route as funds and resources become available. The new section represents one of the first off-road pieces of the Reading-to-Hamburg section.
When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail will total about 130 miles and stretch from Philadelphia to Pottsville.
At its November Borough Council meeting, Pitman, NJ became the fourth municipality and the eighth organization to pass a resolution supporting the Circuit. The resolution specifically encourages Gloucester County to allocate funds to support planning, design and construction of trails within the County. The Circuit Coalition greatly appreciates the Borough's strong support for the completion of a regional trail network. Thanks to John Fitzpatrick for sending us a copy of the Resolution and to the advocates in Gloucester County who helped make this happen.